Slovakia Introduces Film Incentives

Martin Smatlak Martin Smatlak

TRENCIANSKE TEPLICE: Slovakia will officially launch its first film incentives, in the form of a 20 percent cash rebate, on 1 July 2014.

Speaking with FNE at Art Film Fest (which runs through 27 June), Slovak Audiovisual Fund director Martin Smatlak said the new funding system will be a commercial balance to the already existing art film funding, some 6.5 m EUR in grants from the Audiovisual Fund.

“It’s important to have two separate funds, one for commercial films and one for art films,” Smatlak said. The incentives can be used for a slate of up to three films or one TV series put together over a three-year period, for domestic production, coproductions, or foreign production, with a total commercial investment (non-state funded monies) of 2 million EUR or more. ‘If a producer has a big foreign coproduction filming in Slovakia, he could combine it with a smaller Slovak film for slate funding,” Smatlak said.

Slovak independent producers have been less enthusiastic about the new rebate system, citing the difficulty of finding 2 million EUR in financing outside of state monies, which would include investment by the state funded broadcaster Slovak TV. Smatlak has countered objections by noting, “The Audiovisual Fund is for the support of audiovisual culture. The film incentives are for the support of the audiovisual industry.”

Slovakia is now preparing changes in the structure of audiovisual industry support to implement the cash rebate system. Smatlak added that Slovakia is also awaiting approval from the European Commission, but noted that such approval will be a moot point when new rules go into effect so that small incentives will no longer need to go through the notification procedure.

The effect of the cash rebate system is anyone’s guess. With the dissembling of the studio infrastructure over the past decade or more, few foreign films have come to Slovakia to shoot, and film incentives are already in place in its largest coproduction partner, the Czech Republic. Smatlak said that in two or three years the film incentives will be reviewed for changes or modifications.